June 29, 2015
John 15:5; Philippians 4:13
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Two Sides Of The Coin: It is a often phrase used to express the idea of looking at a subject from a negative side and a positive side, and both shed illumination on the subject. So it is with two scriptures that have to do with what we can accomplish.
• First, the negative from John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” ‘Nothing‘ has to be qualified, because obviously there are many people who are not Christians who have accomplished much and made a difference in this world, a positive difference.
Mahatma Gandhi was a devout Jain Hindu. His belief in non-violence toward human being, animals, insects and plants (in that descending order) led to his practice and advocation of non-violent civil disobedience. He worked for ‘Swaraj‘ – political independence of India from British rule, which was realized on August 15, 1947. Gandhi was assassinated by radical Hindus just five and a half months later. Gandhi made a difference. He changed the world – and most say it was for the good. But he was not a Christian! And he did not accomplish what he did through a vital connection with the Lord Jesus Christ!
“…for without Me you can do nothing…” …nothing that will stand the test of time and result in rewards in eternity!
Saul of Tarsus made a difference in Jewish society in his day. He zealously tried to stamp out the new (and to his mind, heretical) belief in the risen Jesus Christ. But this is his testimony from Philippians 3:7 and 8:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. But
indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count
them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ….
Rubbish! – the King James Version translates this word as dung – manure! No matter how idealistic and lofty – no matter how it might affect society and the world, without Jesus Christ, “…you can do nothing…” that will really matter on your scorecard for eternity!
The reason is succinctly spelled out in Ephesians 2:8 and 9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Salvation is not achieved by works! It is God’s gift to us according to His grace. And it is received only by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross! Works only count for eternity after we have been saved! As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
And this leads us to the other Side Of The Coin…
• Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” All things – but it has to be through Christ! In other words, you first have to have Jesus Christ as your Savior and be following Him as your Lord for Philippians 4:13 to become operative in your life! This idea is expanded in Psalm 37:3 through 7:
Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faith-
fulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the
desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him,
and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth your righteousness
as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait
patiently for Him….
That second sentence is key: “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” If you line up your will with God’s, if you make your delight that which delights Him, then He will fulfill the desires of your heart because they will be the desires of His own heart! And so anything you will then be attempting to do will be in the will of God. And Jesus will strengthen you in everything you undertake because it is done through Christ and for His glory!
It is Two Sides Of The Coin – “…for without Me you can do nothing.” And “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”